Anterior Uveitis

What is anterior uveitis? 

Anterior uveitis is an inflammation of the iris (the coloured part of the front of the eye) and sometimes the ciliary body (a structure behind the iris).   The symptoms include light sensitivity, throbbing eye pain, and blurred vision. The eye often looks red, and some patients need to wear sunglasses to help with the light sensitivity.  Anterior uveitis is not an infection and it is not contagious.

What causes anterior uveitis? 

In most cases, there is no known cause. Certain systemic conditions are associated with anterior uveitis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, lupus, syphilis, gout, herpes, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and psoriasis. In these cases, blood tests and/or x-rays can sometimes identify a cause for the anterior uveitis.     

Are there risk factors with anterior uveitis? 

Anterior uveitis can be quite painful, and if left untreated for too long, it can lead to permanent structural damage and vision loss. It usually responds well to steroid eye drops. But depending on the underlying cause, there may be a tendency for the condition to recur. 

How is anterior uveitis treated? 

Anterior uveitis is usually treated by using two different medicated eye drops. One serves to reduce the eye pain associated with the pupil changing size. The second reduces the inflammation. Depending on the severity of the anterior uveitis, the drops may be used for several weeks. The steroid drops should be used according to the schedule recommended by your eye doctor, since there can be complications from using it too long or from discontinuing its use too quickly.  The steroid is usually tapered to reduce the chance of a flare-up or recurrence.